Even though it’s been an all-but-inevitable reality for a couple weeks now, it’s a huge relief to finally see an “X” next to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the standings. Especially with just one game remaining in their 82-game regular season slate.
By virtue of their 4-1 win vs. Detroit tonight, the Penguins officially clinched their 13th-straight playoff berth and keep their impressive consecutive postseason record in the salary cap era alive.
The Penguins’ emotional roller coaster of a season was saved by an incredible March once again (as if that isn’t expected by now), and all of our concerns and doubts from the beginning of the year can be wiped away... for now, at least.
They’ll likely draw the Islanders in the first round, but the battle for the No. 2 spot in the Metro and home ice advantage is still anyone’s game. NYI lost 2-1 to the Maple Leafs in regulation Monday night and faced the Florida Panthers Thursday, where they won in a shootout.
Pittsburgh now sits two points back at 99. If the Isles (101) lose their tilt Saturday in regulation, and the Penguins win in regulation or in a shootout, by rules of the ROW tiebreaker or goal differential (depending on the situation), Pittsburgh gets home ice advantage in Round 1. The Penguins are also guaranteed to avoid Tampa Bay and let the Bolts be someone else’s problem.
But enough of that... PARTY HARD, PITTSBURGH.